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Youth Ministry Lesson: What is a Methodist?

September 30, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

What is a Methodist?

Lesson 1: History

“Why is there a United Methodist Church?”

Objective: Youth should learn the basic UMC history and be able to share why we became our own denomination & major players in the movement.

Lesson Background: The old adage that “It’s hard to know where you are going if you don’t know where you have been!” applies to lots of areas of life including the church.  How can youth understand what a United Methodist is if they do not know why the Methodist movement began?  Our youth are the future of the United Methodist Church and we need to teach them their roots so they can understand their heritage as they help the church move forward into the future.   So, we will begin with some questions: Why are their United Methodists?, Why are they united?, Where did they come from?  To answer these questions we have to go back to the beginning of Methodism.  In this lesson, we will quickly hit the major points of UM history.  Our goals is for the youth to be able to articulate why we became a denomination and who some of the major players were.

Activity 1: Engagement (5 Minutes)

What do they know?

Spend a 5 minutes asking them what they know about the United Methodist?  History, Structure, Beliefs.  Write those things down.  We will want to hang on to them until the end of all the lessons to see how much more they have learned.

They will probably know very little and that’s ok. It’s why we are doing this!

Be sure and let them know that it is important for them to know about the things they are members of.  They should understand the beliefs, morals, and mission of the church, fraternities or sororities, or any other organization they might join.

Tell them something like: “One of the important things about understanding an organization is its history.  So, today we are going to learn a little more about how the UMC became the UMC.”

Activity 2:  Learning (15-20 Minutes)


Youth hate print off handouts, so we will not use one.  Instead, have them work with you to create a time line on a blank sheet of paper.  (By making their own timeline, they will learn more of the information, too!) Let them know that you’ll be sharing with them short stories about the key moments in the UMC history.  The UMC didn’t become the UMC until 1968, but the Methodist movement is over 250 years old. Let’s start our timelines so that we can learn how we got to today.

Here’s a Timeline that I created.  You could also create your own from the information at umc.org

Questions:  What questions come out of what you have just learned or relearned about the UMC?  Make a list of questions that you’d like to know the answers to that have to do with the history of the UMC.  Promise to take time that week to find answers and bring them back next week.

If your church has a history, you will want to include some interesting moments from the church’s history as well.

OK, tell me again: Why is there a UMC?

It boils down to a group of people called the “Holy Club” lead by John Wesley who believed there were some issues with the Church of England.  The Church of England was a protestant church but it was the national church.  It was not very inviting and did little to go out and help others.  John’s parents especially his mother had taught him the importance of learning the scriptures, praying, and serving those who had less than himself.  John gave much of his time to help orphanages.  John and Charles had no idea that there little club would become the 3rd largest denomination in the world.  They just wanted to get the Good News of Jesus Christ outside the church walls to those who really needed to hear it.  They also wanted to create accountable Christians.  People who didn’t just go to church on Sunday, but a group of believers who faithfully tried to become more like Christ every day through study, prayer, and serving others.  When the Church of England was unhappy about new societies, they kicked John out.  But because of John’s Aldersgate experience, he was filled with the joy of a transformed heart and wanted everyone to experience what God had done for him for them.  So, John and his followers let nothing stand in their way.  Methodism spread thru England, to America, and around the world.  We are a “United” Methodist Church because many of the various groups that followed the Methodist way had become various offspring’s and over time many of those groups united to form one denomination.

Activity 3: Taking It to Heart:  What does this mean for Me?

It means that you are apart of 250 years of Methodists.  Faithful followers of Jesus Christ who have come together over the years to worship God and hear the Word preached and have gathered in classes (small groups) to grow in their discipleship.  This year will you be faithful to the Methodist heritage by studying together, praying together, serving others together, and holding each other accountable for becoming more like Christ?

Have everyone share one thing they learned or found interesting today.


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